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Monday, June 26, 2006

Israel's two armies

This one is a must read for those of you who are trying to understand how the IDF could have been caught so flat-footed yesterday morning. I hope and pray that the IDF will learn the lesson (and the fact that Giora Eiland - who was critical of the Gaza unilateral disengagement surrender has been appointed to investigate yesterday's events means that there is at least some chance that will happen) from yesterday's fiasco, but I fear they won't.

Hat Tip: Varda in Ofra
Two weeks ago officers from the Israel Defense Forces Engineering Corps knocked on the door of the Geophysics Institute which, among other work, researches subterranean phenomena related to security. The officers expressed concern at the possibility that in the area of the Sufa crossing between Israel and Gaza, tunnels are being dug from the Palestinian side in the direction of the border - both for immediate crossings into Israel and for future use. Experts at the institute were asked to assist in locating the tunnels, which Brigadier General Aviv Kochavi said the IDF had failed to find. The staff expressed an eagerness to help, but asked that an official request be made, as is customary. No such request arrived; instead a Palestinian commando attack took place yesterday there against IDF soldiers.

The fiasco in the handling of the Gaza Strip tunnels cost the lives of two soldiers yesterday, the abduction of another and injuries to others, and has led to an escalation in ground warfare in the Rafah area. The responsibility of the Hamas government for these developments does not free Israel of the need for a detailed evaluation of the failings of the army and the Defense Ministry in the tunnels affair.


A year and a half ago, following repeated incidents along the Philadelphi Route that claimed many lives, then chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon appointed a special advisor on the issue of tunneling, Colonel (res.) Yossi Langotsky, a geologist and a veteran of special operations with experience dealing with technologies used by the Intelligence Corps.


His assistance was apparently unwelcome, and those harmed by Langotsky's findings blamed him for being motivated by personal interests. Then defense minister Shaul Mofaz, who boasted in the Knesset about the successes in coping with the tunnel phenomenon, avoided a meeting with Langotsky. This was also the response of all the generals who were dealing with the issue - with the exception of Major General Benny Gantz who, as head of Northern Command, was worried that the Hezbollah was also secretly digging tunnels.


The IDF has two armies. There is one that fights day and night, to the best of its depleted ability; most of the time it succeeds, sometimes it fails. The second army works during office hours, from Sunday morning to Thursday afternoon, with no sense of urgency. The tunnels are being dug along the seam between the two armies.
Read the whole thing.


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